This year's Pride of Wearside awards + VIDEO

Family, friends and loved ones gathered at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday to see who would be crowned as the Pride of Wearside.

Hundreds packed into the home of the Black Cats for this year's Pride of Wearside awards, the one night of the year when the city's unsung heroes step into the spotlight.

Among those who brought tears to the eyes of the audience were the Children of Courage, who have overcome more in their short lives than most of us will face in a lifetime.

Judges couldn't choose between the four children nominated for the prestigious award, so named all of them as the city's Children of Courage.

They were among the 26 nominees shortlisted at the fourth annual awards ceremony which recognises ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Scores of entries flooded into the Echo when we launched this year's awards, and last night local celebrities, businesses, family and friends gathered to see those who make us proud given the recognition they deserve.

The winners of the awards, a joint venture between the Echo and gentoo, stepped on stage to rapturous applause to receive a trophy and 100 each.

Child of Courage winner Kellsie Scott said her award will take pride of place at her Pennywell home.

The 12-year-old was given just 48 hours to live when given the

devastating diagnosis that she had two forms of cancer.

Four months later, she is more determined than ever to beat the Burkitt's lymphoma and leukaemia which threatened her life.

The Academy 360 pupil, who is still in the midst of gruelling cancer treatment, said: "I'm really glad they picked us all, I think it's better that way.

"Watching the awards makes you realise just what is going on in other people's lives."

Nine-year-old Kate Heskett, who has won her own battle with cancer, joined her on stage.

Just a year after being told she had bone cancer, the Tunstall youngster is now in remission.

Surgeons had to remove the schoolgirl's fibula bone in her lower leg when they discovered a cancerous tumour wrapped around it.

But, after months of treatment, Kate is rebuilding her life.

To thank staff at Newcastle's RVI hospital, she teamed up with staff and pupils at Hill View Junior School to raise 7,000 for its

children's ward.

Kate said: "I'm shocked my name was called out. I wasn't expecting it because of all the things that other people have gone through."

Courageous Sarah Barton also brought the audience of more than 300 to their feet as she collected her award. Six months ago, the 13-year-old was fighting to survive a second heart transplant after the donor organ she received two years ago failed.

Doctors gave the East Herrington teenager three days to live and did not think she would pull through heart surgery.But determined Sarah kept fighting and, once she was stable enough, she was put on the urgent transplant register for the whole of Europe.

After a successful second transplant, the Farringdon School pupil is now back on her feet.

"It feels really wonderful to be given this award," said Sarah. "Having a second transplant was really hard and I got very depressed, but I'm much happier now and it feels great to win."

Teenager Katie Cowell has proved inspirational to staff and pupils at Farringdon Community Sports College.

The 14-year-old has been a tower of strength after being faced with extreme circumstances.

During the past year she has lost her dad Stephen Cowell to lung cancer in March, and is helping her mum Julie to cope after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and breast cancer.

Her teacher Mrs Ramshaw, who put forward Katie's nomination, said: "She is kind, caring and supportive and puts the needs of others above her own. Despite these traumatic experiences she attends school daily with a smile."

Katie, from Farringdon, said: "It's been really hard for all the family so I'm really happy to be given this award. My mam is like my best friend now, but all of the other winners have been through so much too and I'm happy everyone was recognised tonight."

Echo editor Rob Lawson said: "It's been a fantastic night. It's a reminder of how many extraordinary people there are on Wearside.

"I was delighted to share the stage with so many inspirational people."

Read more in today's Echo